MINERAL, Va. (WUSA) - It sounds like the beginning of school, but from the outside, it doesn't look like it, with a sea of students navigating through a maze of modular buildings. They're reminded why they're here every time a train goes by, says Louisa County High School Principal Tom Smith.
"Even now, when a train goes by, people will kind of look to see if its really a train and not the earth shaking," said Smith.
This is what the school building looked like in the days following the 5.8 magnitude earthquake.
"I was terrified. I didn't know it was an earthquake. I thought something went wrong with the school," said high school senior Audrey Shackelford.
The cosmetology room looked surreal with mannequins laying on the floors.
The damage to the school building's various decades of construction... going back to 1938... was too great to repair.
"It's really sad, especially the oldest part," said Shackelford.
Through it all, Superintendent Dr. Deborah Pettit, who grew up in Louisa and went to high school here, tried to keep a smile on her face. " I felt like I needed to keep it there. .. There was no death or serious injuries."
Students have gotten used to the modular buildings which will be in place until a new school is built in about three years. Federal, state and private donations have helped the Louisa County schools, which suffered $60 million dollars in damage. Thomas Jefferson Elementary was also damaged beyond and repair and has already been demolished. Federal, state and private donations have come in to help county residents and it's schools.
Superintendent Pettit says "I'm just amazed so many people wanted to help us."
Two miles down the street, it's difficult for Bikram Jit J Singh to smile. His world seemed to be tumbling down around him a year ago. His store, Miller's Market, was heavily damaged. Mr. Singh says his losses in merchandise and damage total more $200,000. He says he was hopeful he'd get some get help. No help ever came.
"I can't improve my store, I can't fix the cracks. No one came to help me, I'm so upset," said Singh. Singh says he couldn't even get a bank loan because the banks told him he didnt have the cash flow.
Governor Bob McDonnell and Virginia Rep. Eric Cantor came to Louisa County and toured damaged buildings, including Miller's Market.
"I requested of Governor McDonnell for some help, and they told me we're not going to help any business. Nobody is helping us," said Singh.
Singh says he looks at his 12 employees as family and kept them all on.... despite the hardship.